I am a cartoon. Or a comic strip character. Or whatever. But I do know that I am not made with some cartoon software free download. I am lovingly crafted (I assume!) by the hand of some creature named Walters who I never met but know very well since my soul is trapped in his brain, the part of his brain that used to contain old income tax info. I know that since there is a very nice tax table he left behind that I put my feet up from time to time.
I am not so thrilled that cartoon making software—free even!—has hit the scene and can make armies of cartoon competitors for the hearts and minds of you earthlings. Being a cartoon character is a completive business with the specter of not only being fired, but actually being erased.
Nonetheless, since I live in the world of cartoons, my first hand experience can be helpful. I guess this is also a moral issue since I want the undrawn cartoons of tomorrow to have the same high quality life that I have so far enjoyed. So in their interests, I will guide you through the ins and outs of what to consider when choosing cartoon making software.
Frame choices. Your cartoons are most likely going to be energetic critters, so give them the room to spread out. Frames should be of all sizes and shapes: long ones for action scenes, narrow ones for close-ups (my face is made for close-ups!), even different shapes such as ovals.
Wide variety of templates. Cartoon characters do things. So your cartoon design software should include a wide variety of templates for characters, background elements, thought balloons, grawlixes and stylized action commands (i.e. Zap! and BOOM!). And don’t forget to evaluate the font that goes in those thought balloons.
Easy to use workspace. With all those elements, a space where you can move them around is essential. See how comfortable it is when you drag and drop elements from one area to the next. Is this workspace designed well enough to use for extended periods of time? I don’t want my future cartoon brethren to have a limp or a misplaced eye because the workspace was not sufficiently ergonomic!
Filtering options. You may want to change the look of some of your elements. Filtering options can include making elements look hand drawn, shiny, grainy, brighter, or darker. Each software program has its own method for filtering; so investigate and see if the method is right for you.
Multiple file support. Who knows where you will send your comic masterpiece or what program you will embed it in. Make sure that a good number of file options are supported, such as GIF, BMP, TIF, PCT, etc. Also verify that the cartoon software can import files that you may wish to process.
Personally, I like to be rendered as a GIF file. Because it takes up less space, I feel less bogged down and lighter in spirit. It’s really very nice.
So there you have it: a comic to mano rundown of what makes cartoon making software tick. Good luck and be responsible for whom you create; there are enough dysfunctional people in the world as it is without making any new ones!